Today, two years ago: maybe the problem is he likes you too much

December 7, 2010

Learning to speak relationship

December 7, 2010

Hypotheticals: the, “but the parents bought her the apartment” pickle

December 7, 2010
empty image
empty image

A few weeks ago we started a new series in which I present a hypothetical dating and/or general life situation, provide my assessment and ask you to judge it as you will. This way it’s like we’re all at brunch and our first round of bloody mary’s just arrived and after taking a massive gulp I silence the group with a, “so I’ve got something good…” and then you all get super excited, I go into presentation mode, and brunch takes its typical turn.

Last time it was the case of a financially stalled future fiance and the question of, “what’s a girl to do?”

Today, a very different scenario – one involving parents and apartments and the logistical conundrum that can develop when those two worlds collide.

The, “but the parents bought her the apartment” Pickle

A guy and a girl have been dating for one to two years. They are in a stable, secure relationship – one in which they openly talk about marriage. Now the girl in this scenario comes from a family that is very financially comfortable while the guy does not. Of either equal or absolutely no significance is the fact that the girl in this scenario is in a work situation in which she is personally financially comfortable while the guy is not.

Owing to a recent windfall of money or family tradition or simple whim, the parents of the girl decide to buy the girl an apartment. It’s an investment that she’ll have some financial involvement in (like she’ll help contribute to the mortgage), but they are fronting the money.

…which is exactly where it gets tricky.

See the parents of the girl do not approve of premarital cohabitation – under any circumstances. Their rationale isn’t what’s important – could be a religious thing, could be a general morality thing, could be because they think it hurts the future marriagewhat’s important is that they bought this apartment and therefore will not permit the guy to live there with the girl (their daughter).
As such, the guy keeps and pays for his own apartment but spends 90% of his time at the girlfriend’s condo.
And for the final splice of info, the guy and the girl – though intending to be married – are at least one year out from that happening meaning the guy will continue to pay rent on his decoy apartment for at least another year.

Good one, right?
Now let’s assume that the guy and the girl do not want to keep their situation as it is. He’s spending money he doesn’t have on a place where he doesn’t live while he could be splitting the mortgage payments with the girlfriend and contributing to the home they’ll eventually live in together. Fine. As far as I can tell, there are three options here:

Option 1: the guy and the girl lie to the girl’s parents about the fact that the guy actually lives there. He puts most of his things in storage, hides his things in the apartment and makes like he still has the spot on the side. Pluses – they save tons of money and don’t have to continue on with the charade. Minuses – they “live in sin” once and then live in sin again because they’re telling a massive, bad lie.

Option 2: the girl tells her parents that the jig is up and the guy is moving in because it’s practically 2011, he practically lives there anyway, and their mutual ability to save money benefits everyone involved. Pluses – the jig actually gets up (goes up? is up?) plus money saving, etc. Minuses – they might say no. I can’t quite figure out what would happen if they did say no… Cause then what if the girl said, “well too bad!” would they say, “well we’re sending movers to move you out!” I mean, can the parents of an adult woman evict her out of the apartment they bought her (but she pays part of the mortgage on)?

Option 3: the girl puts her foot down and moves out of the apartment owing to the fact that she and her future husband will be in better shape (financial and emotionally) if they live together – even if she has to pay slightly more and have a smaller place. It’s the “thanks, but if it has to be this way then no thanks” route. Pluses – control, money saving, living together. Minuses – losing the very nice condo and seriously pissing off the parents who bought it…

It’s not an easy situation – especially because of combination of financial, emotional, and parental strings pulling in multiple different directions.

What would I do? I don’t know. Probably a combination of numbers two and three? I’d definitely at least start with option two (or the, “can’t we just pleeaassee” version) and then see if resorting to option three was necessary.

But the more interesting question is – what would you do? How would you go about it? And why?


  1. A few quips:

    If a parent takes a mortgage out on an apartment for their child, I wouldn’t call that “buying” the apartment any more than I’d call co-signing a lease “buying” an apartment. If the daughter has to pay her own mortgage then it’s her place, period.

    I’m not into the whole “adult living on their own, but parents still make decisions” thing anyway, but I did have a roommate who paid her half of our shared apartment while living at her BFs because her parents said she couldn’t live with him. It seemed like a huge waste of money to avoid an uncomfortable conversation.

    That said, I’d offer suggestion #4. Explain the situation to the parents emphasizing the money saving and plans to marry. If they don’t agree with the living arrangements, then offer to pay them back the down payment for the apartment.

  2. I have to admit, my only thought after reading this was “oh god, does anyone actually have parents this annoying/controlling/oblivious?”. I guess I’ve just been lucky, but my vote is definitely standing up to the parents and if they put up a fight, move out. Not worth any amount of $$ having someone control your life.

  3. If she is truly a grown woman then she should live somewhere that she can afford on her salary. Her parents should not be part of the equation. By letting her parents pay for things (and consequently manipulate her) she is showing that she is not yet an adult.

    As an adult, she should thank them for their offer, turn it down, and live somewhere that she and her boyfriend can afford together. There is no reason a grown woman should have her parents footing the bill for her apartment or have them controlling her life.

  4. I would tell my parents that it was almost 2011 and that I needed to live with my bf to make sure he really is the one. I’m obviously old enough to make life decisions like this one on my own. If they didn’t want to shell out any money for the apartment anymore, then I think I would just move into my bf’s place.

  5. I would probably opt with #2 while also threatening with option #3 hoping to get the parents to see how serious I am about the boyfriend and relationship.

    Of course Erin’s option #4 is perfectly viable too…

  6. I will throw the curve ball in the mix. If the parents are paying, sorry you still should have to abide by their rules. I understand she’s an adult, but the parents are gifting her with an apt. She should respect that, and not be a brat about it. If she’s old enough to get married, she’s old enough to make it on her own.

  7. I don’t think she is being a brat at all – I think she is being economical while her parents are being exceptionally one sided. Regardless of the parent’s point of view, if the two plan to marry, it is disastrous for the boyfriend to be wasting money on an apartment that is never getting used. They should be saving that money for their future, not throwing it out the window to appease the parents. Even more confusing is the fact that the parents should have enough insight so recognize this!

  8. I don’t think she is being a brat at all – I think she is being economical while her parents are being exceptionally one sided. Regardless of the parent’s point of view, if the two plan to marry, it is disastrous for the boyfriend to be wasting money on an apartment that is never getting used. They should be saving that money for their future, not throwing it out the window to appease the parents. Even more confusing is the fact that the parents should have enough insight so recognize this!

  9. Regardless of the apartment situation, whether the parents are paying or not, shouldn’t the parents’ desires at least be considered and respected?

    I come from a conservatively religious family, so the whole living-in-sin thing doesn’t appeal to my parents. If I thought that living with my gf or fiancee was the best decision, I’d do it anyway and discuss it with them, hoping they’d understand. But I wouldn’t do it under a roof they were paying for. But there is another option.

    If the parents’ desires are important enough, the guy can find a really cheap apartment he spends no time in and when the couple is ready for the plunge, they get married and live together. I don’t believe you HAVE to live with someone to know whether or not s/he is the one you’re going to marry.

    But I also don’t think living in the house your wife’s parents bought the two of you solves this issue either. I have less questions about this situation and more about why, if you can afford it, a couple wouldn’t pay their own way. Gifts, even gaudy ones, are ok, but that would be a HUGE consideration for me to live under the roof my parents-in-law bought.

    How can you ever pay them back? And what are your obligations in that situation? Too risky.

  10. Just get married already!

    The whole living together before marriage is stupid. If you’re into each other enough to share a toilet, just get married. It will do nothing but strengthen the relationship

  11. It is statistically proven that living with someone before you’re married to them increases the chance of divorce. Trust me, I did it. If they want to move in together that badly and the girls’ parents don’t approve, it’s time to move out into their own place. If she’s truly an adult and capable of making adult decisions, she is capable of downgrading condos.

    Another vote for #4!

Leave a comment